Ocean's Eight (2018) Review

director: Gary Ross

writers: Gary Ross & Olivia Milch

starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter

genre: Crime

released: 7 June 2018 (Australia), 8 June 2018 (USA), 21 June 2018 (Germany & Greece)

The funny thing about this film, is that it didn't look like anybody was requesting an all female Oceans' film to be made, on the other hand a few fans online, including myself wanted an all female 'Expendables' film with the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Gina Carano, Vivica A. Fox and more to be made. A project that to this day still hasn't gotten off the ground and instead this did. Which based on its recent box office didn't break the bank, but did show that more people would have possibly seen it if word of mouth was better.

story:

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) as with her brother before her, comes out of prison with one thing on her mind, to accomplish a grand heist. This heist she has planned out needs an ace team to able to confront the challenges ahead. In specific, the task of stealing precious jewels from the Met Gala while the whole place is surrounded by top class security forces and famous celebrities. All while Debbie finds it suitable to mix her personal affairs with business.

thoughts:

After the end of the film, I was personally wondering why so many things weren't done differently and this is usually the problem I have films that aren't bad, but are more mediocre or below average. They have many elements to make it into something special, but not everyone's heart is in it to make the passable wonderful. For example, the moving parts of the story are fine, the actresses minus Rihanna were great and some of the twists while not surprising were smart. The biggest issues is that the emotional drive for this story compared to the 'Ocean's Eleven' wasn't as strong and the build up/anticipation of the heist plot wasn't as magnificent. With the film being very bland at times despite the fact that the potential was there.

Naturally, many mediocre films have this potential I am speaking of and most are hoping that the spark of greatness just occurs during production or audiences are just gullible enough to see the film despite of it missing it. Here it could have been done with a simple script reading to notice that Plot A of the heist wasn't build up adequately and that everything happened way too easily for Debbie's team and Plot B the revenge drama, was low key, never build up and with no real climax for the audience or even the lead character of Debbie Ocean. It's also unfortunate to compare it to the first film, but when you remake or reboot a series you have to be prepared for this fact. Case in point the heist. The original film had a whole scene where Clooney and Pitt's characters are telling Reuben about it and he's saying its impossible and that it can never be done because of x, y and z, with us the audience seeing the whole layout of the job and being amazed by how difficult will be and how in the heck will they manage to do it. Here the film treats it as a momentary scene of it can't be done, to a yes it can and that's it between Debbie and her cohorts during various parts of the film. Not very enlightening or enthralling.

Then there is the plot B of the revenge story where it arrives on the scene out of nowhere, early on, without any back-story, emphasis or exposition and gives us the audience the wrong idea of who that man was to Debbie Ocean, while the fact that her revenge towards this man isn't as significant due to the fact we never experience it and it really isn't brought up that much or shown to bother Sandra Bullocks character of Debbie. Naturally, there is one scene later in the film where she does inform one of the characters of what their connection was and how she ended up in jail due to him, but it is so little and shown so quickly, that it never becomes a driving force of the film or for her. This is why the first half of the film is a drag and feels like a crime drama, rather than a fun con artist film. Its as if there was something more that was filmed or originally intended to be shown, but never came to fruition for Debbie's character and then as an afterthought they through in her subplot as Plot A wasn't enough to justify the film's narrative. This is why her plot should have been dealt with differently. With her ex-partner's character of Claude Becker not only being a love interest and a minor business partner with some illegality in the mix, but for them both to have been full fledged con artists passionately in love. Not simply a guy who ended up just using her just to save his own skin. As we never actually relish the fact of the potential of him getting his due. Which is possibly the film's biggest missed opportunity.

Potential aside, wishing this film was different isn't going to make it so, so we have to see it also for what it is, and what is just a passable heist film and nothing more. It never reaches any heights of glory in suspense, drama, comedy or anything else for that matter and is throughout the whole film steady in its delivery of adequate entertainment with occasional glimpses of hope for something more. I don't blame the actors or the director or even the writers to a great extent, but the studio. As they were the ones who wanted to cash in on the property they could bring back to life and instead of focusing on making a really good product, they fast-lane property right into production without it having a fantastic script. As this film needed nothing more than a good rewrite, aside from certain parts of the film that could have been more fun and suspenseful. As for example Anne Hathaway is great as the silly celebrity actress in the film, but even her performance isn't enough to save it, also Sandra Bullock is too great of an actress not to give her more drama to play with and you can't expect audiences to fall head over toes for Rihanna in a part that could have been better suited to a comedian such as Jenny Slate or Bresha Webb. Things like these make films lackluster at times and lastly they should have been the film even more personal. As mentioned before with the Debbie Ocean love interest subplot. Why couldn't Debbie's partnership with Cate Blanchett have ended due to her dealing with the Claude Becker character? Then we would have had not only a love gone bad subplot with revenge thrown into the mix, but also a personal conflict between two long lasting friends.

Some might say that some of the above mentioned could have made things more complex or that I'm personally focusing on what could have been and not what was and granted that's true, but that was needed in this film and usually this is the case why's go so heavily wrong. As this film towed the line of being your run of the mill con film throughout its entirety. This is also without mentioning potential things in it that maybe were too extreme to believe such as the hacking of the MET security system and so on. However, those are things that you can let slide as the rest are of the pieces in the film should have fixed first. Such as a personal arc for the main character that we are invested in, scenes of robberies that we are wowed by and a villain that deserves what's coming to him, with us the audience enjoying it every second of the way.

verdict:

The 'Ocean's' series is back and its fourth film's value is sort of on part with 'Oceans Thirteen'. No one asked for it and its nothing spectacular, but it could have been worse. As its heist is mild, twists uninspiring, personal drama lacking and the entire film aching at the absence of Danny Ocean that looms over it. Not the stuff that make reboots get sequels.

Personal Rating:

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review by Paul Katsaros

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